Last year I started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity NYC as part of their A Brush with Kindness projects. I found the charity through the State Farm Neighborhood of Good website, which is a portal that helps you find local volunteering opportunities. The site is free and simple to use; it helped me to actually volunteer, as I had for a long time wanted to do so but never got around to signing up to something before last year.
Habitat for Humanity is a charity that works with the local community to self-build houses, as well as manage and carry out other community improvement projects. The charity is made up of multiple local chapters who are autonomous and work in their respective communities. Given my love for design and color, Habitat for Humanity New York City is the perfect organization for me to volunteer with. It’s so fun to get to go out and spend the day adding color and life to community centers in some of New York City’s public housing.
I had a thought of doing something a bit different for my birthday this year. Instead of having a party I decided to volunteer with loved ones and friends. Spending the day giving back to the local community whilst also spending quality time with the people I loved was the perfect way to mark my birthday. This all came about because the first volunteering day I did last year was so much fun! Everyone who volunteered on the day kept saying how nice it was to get out of their office and do something different, something where you can see the difference you’ve made in just one day. Last year, we transformed a kid’s classroom that was tired and old and made it bright, fresh and full of color – it felt so good to do something positive.
One of my favorite things about Habitat for Humanity NYC are their group leaders. They help you during the day but also give you freedom to make creative decisions, which is really nice. For example, in the community room we painted for my birthday volunteering event there was a large wall. The center told us they would like to use a light purple color but then the team leader gave us freedom to choose what we wanted to do. A group of us decided to do a herringbone wall and the group leader worked with three of us to plan out the wall, making suggestions and helping us to achieve the final look.
I thought it would be fun to share how we created the herringbone feature wall (and a big shout out to Zoe and Ashley who did all the hard math for our wall!). First, we gathered all the things we needed which were:
1. 2” inch painters tape
2. Chalk line
3. Measuring tape
4. Mini rollers
5. Paint brushes
6. Two different color paints
7. A pencil
FYI: This method assumes you like the existing color of the wall. If you don’t then make sure to paint whole wall a color of your choice and allow to dry thoroughly before starting.Step One
Start in the middle of the wall and mark the center line with chalk, then decide how wide and high you want the pattern to be. We decided on our sizing based on the overall wall dimensions; we also had pillars so wanted to make sure you could see the pattern in between the pillars. We designed each of the herringbones to be 30.5 inches wide and 16 inches high.
From the center line, measure the other vertical lines out on the wall based on the width of your pattern. For our wall this was 30.5 inches. So, we measured 30.5 inches from the center line in each direction and chalked these vertical lines onto the wall. Then, we repeated this until the wall had a vertical line every 30.5 inches (this would be at whatever width you have decided).
On the vertical lines mark out the height of your herringbone, starting at the bottom. For our wall the height was 16 inches, therefore we marked every 16 inches with a pencil on the vertical lines.Step Four
Start to tape the diagonal lines of the individual herringbones. At the vertical center line place the tape right at the bottom, near the floor, and then pull the tape diagonally across to the adjacent vertical line, and the tape should cross that line at the first point you marked (i.e 16 inches above the floor). Keep repeating this all the way between the two lines, tearing the tape off when you meet the next vertical line.
Keep repeating step four so that you create diagonally taped lines between adjacent vertical lines. Remember to switch direction so the diagonal lines go up if they just came down, and vice versa.
Now put painters tape on all the vertical lines.Step Seven
‘Seal’ the painters tape by painting over the edges with white paint.Step Eight
Now, start to paint inside the chevrons remembering to alternate the paint colors as you do so –
see below. A helpful thing to do is to mark each individual herringbone segment with its respective color before starting to paint. Let the paint to dry and then add a second coat.
Remove the painters tape and see the herringbone pattern revealed before your eyes!If you have been inspired by this post to get volunteering or even have for your own birthday volunteering event, grab a group of friends and start volunteering! Be sure you head over to the State Farm Neighborhood of Good’s website to find opportunities in your area. All you need to do is put in details such as your location and some of your interests, and then it will give you a list of local volunteering opportunities. I hope you have as much fun volunteering as I do!// Photography by Will Taylor